Choosing Leaders

Let one of the contenders say something about Muslims, Women, Walls, Immigration, Terrorism – and within seconds they are being quoted, tweeted and retweeted around the world. In this protracted primary season America is slowly, painstakingly choosing a leader. In typical USA style, we are doing it for all the world to witness. It is interesting to hear commentary from other lands as people try to make sense out of a process that few of us who live here even understand. There are delegates and super delegates. There are conventions – open ones and brokered ones. According to Ed Kilgore, if the Republicans do not have their nominee firmly in place by the time of their national convention in July, they would enter Quicken Loans Arena leaderless and delegates would be functioning in a hostile vacuum.

There is a saying in rural Vermont that one sees posted on back country dirt roads in the Spring: Choose your rut carefully; you are going to be in it for the next 20 miles. Similar care needs to be taken when it comes to choosing a president – we are going to be blessed by them or stuck with them, depending on your point of view, for the next four years.

The Republican Party has captured most of the news cycle for the past six months, with Donald Trump rising to new heights of arrogance or stooping to new lows of political incorrectness – and sometimes doing both in the same ill-thought comment. Less has been written about the Democrats. There certainly is shock that Bernie Sanders has not only lasted this long, but seems to be thriving in his campaign against Hilary Clinton.

But it’s Mr. Trump – he is the one that seems to deflect any attempt at in depth conversation about the myriad of subjects he spouts on about. Ted Cruz spars with him and has managed to stay in the ring with him – something Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush were unable to do. The other dozen Republican candidates, with the exception of John Kasich, simply could not stand against the tidal wave of “Trumpisms” that cropped up in the various debates. They have all folded and floated away. Mr. Kasich seems to have survived by staying as quietly as possible in his corner.

We are talking about leadership in the month of April at First UMC Burlington. We hope you will join us for worship – in our sanctuary or on line. As I reflect on the noise being made by all the folks who want to be president, I find it fascinating that every now and then we see an image or a brief report about another leader – someone less inclined toward winning your vote than washing your feet. We are reminded by this individual that there is more than one way to persuade. Different domes call for different kinds of leadership. Presidents aren’t pastors, though it is perfectly appropriate for them to preach every once in a while. But current presidents – and those who hope to be one some day – can learn a lesson from the man from Argentina. Every now and then it is good for all of us to get out from behind our preferred pulpit and hit the ground – with our knees.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.